Goal Setting

We are holding an orientation session for those who are going to be teaching in the calculus program here. Here is a schedule:

10-10:20: Icebreaker
10:20-10:40: Advice from experienced teachers
10:40-11: Goal Setting
11-11:20: First day videos
11:20-12:05: Pop Quiz (issues in teaching)
12:05-12:50: Lunch
12:50-12:55: Informational handout sheet
12:55-1:40: Skits on clarity, response to student work, and classroom management:
1:40-1:50: Feedback

The part that I am most interested in is Goal Setting. We will get together in our courses and try to determine goals for the semester. I find this to be an interesting and essential part of teaching that is too often overlooked.

I define “goals” and “learning objectives” differently. A “goal” is the effect we wish to have on the student. The “learning objective” is roughly the manner in which we choose to accomplish this goal. The best example of this may come from Rocky IV. The American boxer (fighter, not dog) Rocky is scheduled to fight the Soviet boxer Drago. They, of course, train for the bout, but in very different ways. Drago has a state-of-the-art gym full of computers and training equipment; Rocky goes to a logging cabin in the woods. But they share the same “goals;” for instance, they both want to strengthen their quadriceps muscles. However, their trainers give them different “learning objectives:” Rocky’s trainer gives him a “learning objective” of pulling the trainer on a dogsled. Drago’s trainer gives him a “learning objective” of n number of reps on a machine that mimics the same motion. See the video below:

Even though their goals are the same, they are given different learning objectives to accomplish these goals.

But I digress. We are going to choose goals for our courses. In choosing a goal, I like to try to answer the following questions: Why do we education people at all? There are many possible answers, but I feel like what we do in a math class should support at least one of the answers. This question will appear again in this weblog. In fact, here are a series of questions that I am contemplating:

  1. Why do we educate people rather than not?
  2. Why do we teach mathematics to people rather than some other subject?
  3. What does it mean to be intelligent?

I will likely post on each of these questions separately, and I likely will not provide any answers. All feedback will be welcome.


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